The April Fools by Mark Usyk
It could be said that the opening of Trout Season in NY State sharing the same day as April fools has got to be either one of the most ironic coincidences ever to mark a square on a calendar, or one of the greatest jokes to ever be told of which most people plainly miss the punch line. Hordes of anglers get up early, race to the river to claim their spot on the bank, and become one of a hundred lines in the water attempting to fool fish that for the most part, only days earlier, were living in what could best be described as a swimming pool. Born and raised in this rectangular concrete pond, these same fish are now either hunkered down in the deepest hole in the middle of the river wondering what the hell is going on or running a gauntlet of nearly invisible monofilament, spinners, power baits, and flies.
At a spot like this, there are generally three types of anglers present. Those who will "limit out" on fish that were just too dumb or merely unlucky enough to fall for a joke being played out literally all around them would be the first type. Opposing them would be the anglers who will release every Trout they catch, knowing in their mind that each fish set free helps to ensure the future of the fishery for both the fish and future anglers. Third are the anglers who won't catch a single fish but will offer up the wisdom that any day spent fishing whether catching or not is a day spent enjoying the outdoors and better than a day doing anything else. The first group will think they're the smartest because, well, they're the one with the full stringer. The second will think they're the smartest because they're the one without a stringer, and the third think they're the smartest because they believe they've discovered the secret to life. No matter how you slice it, mind sets and opinions aside, they're all getting beaten at some point by an animal with a brain the size of a pea. April Fools.
But the fools aren't only stacked on river banks like cord wood on the edge of town. No, some of us feel that if we get up even earlier, drive a lot farther, and find a piece of water where we'll be the only ones there, that we must be the smarter ones. We may find wild fish, but we might not. We still get beat by animals with pea brains, we just exerted a little more effort into it. And we also think we’re the smarter ones. I can't really relate to those fisherman all gathered in one spot competing for the same ten inch stocked fish, but I can't hold it against them either. What I can relate to is that they're fishing, and fishing means they aren't dealing with any of the other BS going on around us daily that we have no control over like politics, race riots in faraway cities, religion, or the idea of global climate change, let alone a job. Whether shoulder to shoulder or out of sight on a hidden stream or lake, anglers know they need to escape such things or else become just another lemming bound to eventually follow the rest of the group over a cliff. So we go fishing.
The past couple months of being cooped up inside and bombarded with election campaigns might shed a little more light on the situation. I just don't care anymore. Whatever it is they have to say, I don't care. The rich will always be rich, the poor always poor. Politicians will always speak in riddles or all out lies. No one will ever agree on anything. I don't care who sits in the oval office, these things will always remain constant. Always have, always will. The fact that just as we've all had enough of the useless banter from the puppets behind the podiums, that something like Trout season comes along to sweep us all away tells me that someone else once also had enough and decided to do something about it. They decided to go fishing too. They’d had enough too.
I find myself as I get older having a harder and harder time relating to the rest of the world and its problems. I've been accused of becoming anti-social, and I'm sure there's some truth to that. I don't care to argue about politics, foreign policy, racism, religion, or global warming. I'm not saying they aren't important discussions, I'm just saying they were here before me, they'll still be here when I'm gone, and it's the stuff that you have no control over that'll eat you up if you give it the chance. But I do have control over the loop of my fly line, at least some of the time. I can't relate to the rest of the world as easily these days. I seem to be able to relate to the fish better. Like them, I just want to be left alone. So as irony would have it, I go out on my own to find them. Just another fool shivering with frozen fingers in a freezing cold river, wondering if there are even any Trout in it. On April 1st. Another April fool.